On January 17th, 2006 I installed a hit counter. I use Site Meter, but there are several that offer free versions of their software to track various aspects of the traffic to a site. Why Site Meter? One of the blogs I read regularly (I don’t remember which one) uses it and clicking on the counter linked me to their site. I liked it enough to pay the fifty or so bucks for the upgraded one-year service. It's pretty cool; it provides a wealth of interesting but largely useless information.
I bring all this up because, in all likelihood, I’ll hit 2,500 visits tomorrow. This is just about one week shy of my blog’s four-month anniversary (has it been that long?!) and almost three months since installing the counter. So what does all this mean? I’m not quite sure. I should qualify this number by saying that a lot of these visits are “drive-bys.” They probably didn’t read anything and spent little or no time on my site. Many others are regular readers. They account for a visit each time they stop by and some of my readers stop by daily (thank you).
Additionally, for the first two or three weeks after installing the counter, every one of my own visits was counted – and there were a lot of them. I did not know that I could ignore them until I had explored all that Site Meter was capable of. Like blogging itself, there was a learning curve involved. One that would have progressed much more rapidly had I read the instructions. Yeah, yeah, I know! Having said all this, what does it all mean?
First and foremost, this is primarily a curiosity for me. Primarily, but not exclusively. Although I find the stats interesting and I like to see where my visitors hail from, there is a lingering question; a motive checker that I can’t totally shake. What if nobody stopped on my blog? Let’s be real: I don’t do this just to get it out of our head. I write to be read, and I want evidence. To that end, Site Meter is working for me.
Before installing the hit counter, the only way I knew anyone ever read my stuff was from the comments left. It took a little time before I realized that anyone knew I even existed, but I was not all that concerned. As I stated in my first couple of posts, this blog was a vehicle to keep myself writing in between semesters at Sac State. When I received my first comment (actually it was the second, the first was from some whacko), I was absolutely thrilled. I started to read and comment on other blogs via the links in the comments/profiles/blogs/comments and so on.
Back in February, my friend Barbara ran a poll on her blog asking what meant more, comments or stats. Although it is a decidedly unscientific poll, the results are still telling: Most respondents put more weight on comments than hit stats. One of those votes was my own. I figure that if I have moved you enough that you took the time to respond, then I have done more than simply entertain or inform.
As I learned more and more about blogs and blogging, I learned about things I was not necessarily interested in, such as promoting my blog. This is a key point… I don’t know how I rate in regards to hits on other blogs. I assume that I get more hits than some and less than others – I don’t care. There is no relative importance. That I have a few readers - regular readers - is good enough. It is also should not go unsaid that - based on their own blogs and their comments left on mine - they are readers whose opinions I respect.
In a way, this is my practice field – a proving-grounds as it were. Those who read me regularly know that my ultimate goal is to write professionally in some capacity. Blogging and posting for anyone to read and comment on is like practicing using live ammo. It’s out there, it’s public and it’s real. Additionally, in my case, it’s completely attributable – my profile reveals my real name. There is no anonymity here.